I actually don’t consider myself to be an extremely disciplined person. However, the people who know me best say I am one of the most disciplined people they know! I will say I have worked diligently to become a more disciplined person. I desire to steward my life and ministry well and that simply requires greater and greater levels of discipline. I have worked to create systems that assist me in my desire to be a more disciplined person. You can become more disciplined, as well. Here's how:
Place Yourself on the Calendar First.
If we wait until things “slow down” to do the things that really matter, they will never get done. Place the following ON YOUR CALENDAR as appointments and don’t allow anything to get in the way:
- Personal Development: Spending time alone with God
- Personal Growth: Reading and Study Time
- Personal Relationships: Spouse, Family, Friendships
- Personal Exercise
- Personal Recreation and Hobbies
It may even sound narcissistic to think that as the leader I should place myself first. In reality, as the leader, the best gift I give to my organization is a healthy me. Therefore, I must place myself on the calendar first.
Go To Bed Earlier. Get Up Earlier.
I used to hate the mornings. I would not consider myself a natural morning person. I am never very nice before my TWO cups of coffee in the morning. I used to love late night TV. Letterman is still my all time favorite. However, years ago I gave up late night TV. I realized that if my mind was going to fresh and focused in the morning, I would need to make a commitment to go to bed earlier! For the last fifteen years, I have gone to bed between 9 and 10 PM. Guess what happens/ How do you get up earlier? Go to bed earlier!
I also realized over time that the most valuable, uninterrupted time of my day would always come very early in the morning when no one else needs me. I can get more accomplished from 6:30-8:30 AM than I can in an entire afternoon! Uninterrupted time equals more disciplined time. Who’s our best example? His name was Jesus:
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” Mark 1:35 (NIV)
When I set new discipline goals, I always make them public. I might fail to meet those goals, but if I don’t have accountability, I don’t have a prayer of meeting those goals. I will compromise. I will cheat. I will give up. If I am accountable, my odds for success go up greatly. By the way, if you really want to be held accountable, ask your SPOUSE to hold you accountable! Works for me. I recently set a new goal to take it to another level from a physical point of view. I called it “The 21 Day Makeover.” It conveniently came right before swimsuit season. I typed out the following goals and printed them off FOR MY FAMILY:
- No Sugar
- No Sweet Tea
- No Sodas
- No Sugar Substitute
- No Fried Food
- No Chips of Any Kind
- 2 Workouts Every Day
- Salads for Dinner
This was tough...but guess what? I was successful (for the most part) because I made myself accountable!
Focus on one area of discipline at a time.
Don’t try to change everything. Don’t write yourself off as being an undisciplined persona and use that as an excuse. Self Control is a fruit of the Spirit. You can do this. Start with one area. Focus on one new area of discipline. One area of discipline spills over into another area. Before you know it, you have become a more disciplined person. Let me know if this helps!